Berlin distances itself from Armenia genocide resolution

Relations between Ankara and Berlin soured dramatically after the Bundestag (German parliament) overwhelmingly passed a resolution in early June recognizing the Ottoman murder of over a million Armenians in 1915-16 as genocide.

Ankara recalled its ambassador to Berlin and blocked German politicians from visiting soldiers stationed at Incirlik airbase, from where they are flying missions against terror group Isis in Syria.

Spiegel claims in an article posted online on Friday that government spokesman Steffen Seibert is to tell the press that the government is distancing itself from the resolution, after the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry agreed upon this strategy.

Seibert is to say that the Bundestag resolution is in no way binding on the government and that it was a political statement of the parliament with no legal significance, according to Spiegel.

Asked about the Spiegel report, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “the German parliament of course has the right and freedom to comment on political issues but, as the parliament says itself, not every resolution is legally binding”.

However, Chancellor Angela Merkel faced concerted pressure from within her CDU party not to distance herself from the resolution.

Deputy leader of the CDU in the Bundestag Stephan Harbarth told DPA that if Merkel were to distance herself from the resolution it would be “fatal.”

Merkel, Steinmeier and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel all did not take part in the Bundestag vote which passed with just one vote against and one abstention.

Germany has over 200 soldiers stationed at Incirlik air base, as well as six Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refuelling plane.

The German government had previously announced that it would not let itself be blackmailed by Turkey, and had demanded that politicians be allowed to visit the base.

On Monday Steinmeier rejected a suggestion from his counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu that the government distancing itself from the Armenian resolution would facilitate visits to the air base.

“I don’t see a direct connection and I told my Turkish colleague this,” he said.

With AFP

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